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CNN American Morning-Transcript

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CNN

SHOW: AMERICAN MORNING

May 24, 2004 Monday

HEADLINE: Bush Speech Against Backdrop of Lower Approval Numbers, Ongoing Criticism That There Was No Plan for Post-War Iraq

GUESTS: Peter Landesman, Rep. Peter King

BYLINE: Bill Hemmer, Soledad O'Brien, Jack Cafferty, Elaine Quijano, Ted Rowlands, Jeffrey Toobin, Heidi Collins

HIGHLIGHT:
Quijano reports on President Bush's speech to the nation tonight on his plan for the handover of power in Iraq. Landesman discusses the possibility that North Korea supplied Libya with uranium to make nuclear weapons. Rowlands discusses the controversy over inheritance rights and post-mortem children. Toobin discusses the legal issues involved in the issue and the so-called Dead Dad Bill in California. Collins examines the top stories making news today. King discusses former President Bill Clinton's memoirs, on which he was consulted.

BODY:

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HEMMER: Nearly four years after leaving office, former President Bill Clinton about to embark on his final campaign. That's how our next guest describes the publication of Clinton's long awaited memoir. It's 900 pages. It's called "My
Life." It's due out next month.

New York Congressman Peter King was one of the four Republicans to vote against impeachment and someone Bill Clinton apparently has consulted for this book.

And Congressman King is here in New York, his hometown, to talk about it.

Why did he call you?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I guess because I was one of the, you know, one of the Republicans who voted against impeachment. Plus, actually, I had a very good working relationship with him. I had really gotten to know him well through the Northern Ireland peace process. I was involved in it then. And, of course, as president he really brought it to culmination. So we, you know, worked very closely on that. And I think I can say we formed a friendship.

HEMMER: He called you last week or when?

KING: Actually, he first called me a month ago when I was in Washington when he was really trying to get final details for the book. And then last Monday morning at 6:30 I got a call. It was Senator Clinton on the phone saying that President Clinton wanted to talk to me, he had some questions on the book. But mainly he was just reading parts of the book and he asked me how I thought it sounded. He was like a kid showing off his new toy. He's pumped with adrenaline, yes.

HEMMER: Is that so? Did you tell him you were coming on national TV to talk about the conversation, by the way?

KING: No, I didn't. You guys invited me. No, no, not at all. No, so.

HEMMER: What did he ask you?

KING: Well, mainly he just wanted some details as to who felt what and why some people changed their votes. But-and also just different pressure that might have been brought on someone like me. Really, nothing dramatic. I think he just wanted to confirm his version of what happened at that time.

HEMMER: You have said that it appears that he's doing this on his own in terms of finishing the book and getting it done. You talked about it seemed that he had notes scattered all over the place.

What did you mean by that?

KING: This is a book that's obviously been written by the author. This is not going to be any ghost writers. I'm sure there's people helping him, doing some final polishing. No, he was doing the book. I'm talking to him and he said, "OK, let me get that. I have that upstairs." And you could see he was trying to find some notes he had, trying to find records he had.

Now, this is all his own work. He is really into this. This is his crusade.

HEMMER: The other thing you say, he won't give an inch on impeachment.

What do you mean by that?

KING: I think he's going to be very aggressive. He believes that he was wronged. He thinks it was done illegally and wrongly and he is going to fight as hard as he can to defend himself. This is not going to be, I don't think, from what I heard, any kind of an-it's not going to be apologizing or anything. He's going to be on offense, because this is his legacy.

HEMMER: Do you think he breaks new ground with this book?

KING: I think what people are going to see is he's going to be defending every one of his positions. I'm sure he's going to be coming out with some information. He didn't make that known to me...

HEMMER: I see.

KING: ... but I think he's going to tell, you know, all that he knows, but he's going to be very-he's going to be on offense. This is his way to define his legacy.

HEMMER: There are many Democrats who suggest the release of this book in a few weeks from now will take headlines away from John Kerry.

Do you believe that, especially when you go on the book tour and you do interviews across the country?

KING: Yes, I don't think it helps. And certainly I know Democrats in Washington are concerned about it because, you know, people have only so much of an attention span and Bill Clinton can suck up oxygen as well as anyone, probably, in history.

HEMMER: Can you tell us what you told him about his questions regarding impeachment?

KING: I told him, "Mr. President, I'm looking forward to reading the entire book." No, I, listen, when you-I mean there were certain things-we were just clarifying some facts. But, no, I'm not going to-you know, he's very proud of the book. He's going to be very aggressive in promoting it, not so much that he wants to sell books, but he wants to get his legacy out there.

HEMMER: Peter King, nice to see you again.

KING: Bill, thank you.

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